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AFC North Round-Up; Just Two of the Four in Action


Roethlisberger faces the 31st ranked pass defense in Washington today at Heinz Field.

With the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals on their bye-weeks, the focus of the AFC North falls on two struggling teams in Cleveland and a potential shoot-out in Pittsburgh. The Browns host San Diego who is coming off of their bye week and are without question a struggling, mysterious team. The Browns are at the very least competitive despite having just one victory on the season.

In the Steel City, Pittsburgh hosts Washington in a game that could be filled with explosive offense from both sides. With both teams having top offenses, the defenses will be challenged and weather may play a part with Hurricane Sandy pushing weather westward.

The Standings: Baltimore 5-2, Pittsburgh 3-3, Cincinnati 3-4, Cleveland 1-6

San Diego Chargers (-3) at Cleveland Browns – The Chargers come into Browns Stadium at 3-3 and having lost two straight games. Their most recent was as defeating as any could be as they surrendered a 24-0 loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos at home and lost. Cleveland has been in just about every game they’ve played this season yet have just the one victory to show for it.

Trent Richardson

Richardson is questionable with a rib injury against the Chargers today

The positive for Cleveland is that they are getting decent play from rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. Weeden actually leads all rookie QB’s in plays over 20 yards. With that said, the Browns are still 27th overall in the league on offense and continue to struggle to make plays at the right times. The Cleveland defense also ranks 27th in the league and much like the offense, they just can’t seem to get off the field when they absolutely need a big play.

The temperature in Cleveland today is supposed to be around 48 degrees at game time, but the winds will be whipping off Lake Erie up to 30 mph at times with rain expected. It is certainly going to feel much colder than 48. This a huge game for San Diego and frankly, for Head Coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith as well. The injury list is massive for Cleveland today and that is just enough to take the Chargers to cover.

Washington Redskins (+4) at Pittsburgh Steelers – There are a couple of key stats heading into this game today that bear consideration. First, Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is 14-1 lifetime against rookie starting quarterbacks and in comes Robert Griffin III today. The second stat is perhaps far less reliable but worth noting. The Steelers have won four straight meetings against Washington despite those four meetings coming over the last 21 years so take it for what it’s worth.

The Steelers are playing just their third home game of the season and giving up just 12 points per game in those two wins against the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. They will once again be without Troy Polamalu who will probably miss several more weeks with a his torn calf muscle. Look for Will Allen in his spot today with Ryan Mundy in there from time-to-time.

The Redskins’ D has been hampered by injury as well as AdamCarriker and Brian Orakpo are both out for the season. The pass defense ranks 31st in the league and now faces a dynamic cast of receivers in Pittsburgh that have posed problems for every defense they’ve faced this year.

RGIII is just too good of an athlete not to make plays in this game. He is going to get some yardage on runs and will create plays much like his counter-part Ben Roethlisberger does. Perhaps the bigger issue for the Steelers’ defense will be the league’s second leading rusher Alfred Morris. Look for the Steelers to do as they always do and stop the run first.

This one has all the makings of a game played in the high 20’s and the weather will be similar to the gamein Cleveland with less wind and perhaps less rain. I like the Steelers to win but take the ‘Skins with the four points. A field goal makes the difference late.

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